(NOTE: The syllabus is heavy on black children’s and YA literature because I revised the course in light of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and so we could use the concepts learned and discussed through those texts as examples for discussions of related issues in youth lit and social justice. I am fully aware that my reading list is not representative of all social justice issues, but what I hope is that by discussing a narrow segment, my students and I can learn to think broadly in terms of ideology, positionality, authorship, power, privilege, etc as they relate to about social justice and children’s literature.)

LIS 7190 Social Justice and Children’s/YA Literature
Instructor Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen
2015 Summer
St. Catherine University
Master of Library and Information Science Program

Course Description

In this course, students will learn how to select, evaluate and analyze depictions and aspects of social justice and injustice in children’s and young adult literature. We will consider topics such as power, racism, diversity, violence, perspective, publishing trends, authorship, illustrations, and ideology. We will also consider how these texts may be used in library programming. 

By successfully finishing this course, students will be able to select, evaluate, and recommend a variety of materials depicting social justice issues for young audiences.

Required Readings (assigned by me)

  • A Wreath for Emmitt Till by Marilyn Nelson
  • After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  • A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
  • Bridge by Patrick Jones
  • Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
  • Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos
  • No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Works of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
  • If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
  • Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • The Real Boy by Anne Ursu 
  • El Deafo by CeCe Bell
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 
  • Call me Tree/Llámame árbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez
  • Star of the Week by Darlene Friedman
  • The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

Additional Required Readings (assigned by students – the Unsyllabus portion)

  • Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
  • The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
  • Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth
  • Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brezenoff
  • The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Assignments

  • Text presentation
  • Book talk and flyer
  • Unsyllabus presentation
  • Book discussion group
  • Reflection paper

First Week’s Readings 

WEEK 1 | June 2 Tuesday | #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Readings

  • Larrick, Nancy. (1965). “The All White World of Children’s Literature.” Saturday Review, 63-65. 
  • Horning, Kathleen T. (2014 May 1). “Children’s Books: Still an All-White World?” School Library Journal.
  • Derman-Sparks, Louise. (2013) “An Updated Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books.” Teaching for Change.
  • Diversity in Youth Literature. Editors’ Introduction “Open Books, Open Doors: Cultural Diversity On and Off the Page” (Jamie Campbell Naidoo and Sarah Park Dahlen)
  • Diversity in Youth Literature. Chapter 1 “Voices of Experience: Promoting Acceptance of Other Cultures” (Carol Doll and Kasey Garrison)
  • Diversity in Youth Literature. Chapter 2 “Opening Doors to Understanding: Developing Cultural Competence through Youth Literature” (Eliza Dresang) 

Youth Literature

  • A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson

WEEK 1 | June 4 Thursday | Occupy Children’s Literature

Readings

Youth Literature

  • After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
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